The federal government says it is moving ahead with a "state-of-the-art" health centre at Dorchester Penitentiary that will offer bilingual service and be sensitive to the needs of Indigenous people.
The new centre in Dorchester, about 40 kilometres southeast of Moncton, will improve access to treatment and interventions for offenders in the Atlantic region, the government said in a news release Friday.
"We are committed to providing a correctional system that delivers effective and timely interventions to address the health needs of offenders," said Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.
The federal government will spend between $300 million and $400 million on the project, said federal cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc, the MP for Beauséjour.
"This project will make Dorchester Penitentiary a national leader in the health-care treatment of federal offenders and will obviously create good-paying, long-term jobs," he said.
Indigenous architect must be included
The contract for the design and construction phase of the project is expected to be awarded this fall, and bidders will be required to include an Indigenous architect in their proposals.
"The Indigenous architect will help design culturally safe spaces for Indigenous patients that integrate and promote a holistic approach to health and to wellness," LeBlanc said.
In 2018, the federal announced plans to either replace or renovate the existing Shepody Healing Centre, which experts said was too small for the proper delivery of service.
The next year, the government said it wanted to build a new, bilingual health-care centre in New Brunswick that would include mental health beds, beds for women in prison, and for offenders elsewhere in the Atlantic region.
Dorchester is a medium and minimum-security prison with a capacity for 699 inmates and is the second oldest prison in Canada, according to the Correctional Services of Canada.